Half Dome Trail/Gear Guide
Information we share with you to successfully complete a summit hike whether or not you choose to join us for a guided Half Dome adventure.
Food: Calories are energy. Eat all day. Protein and carbohydrates are essential for hiking so it would be wise to eat a fulfilling meal (pasta) the night before and a healthy breakfast (oatmeal, banana) the day of a hike. Please be certain to bring plenty of food. Everyone joining us should bring at least one sandwich for lunch and a variety of the following: trail mix, fruit, dried fruit, nuts, raisins, hard boiled eggs, cheese & crackers, pretzels, energy bars, granola bars, and a chocolate bar (or other ‘comfort’ item). You may also want to pack a little extra food because of the length of time spent on the trail. Expect to be on the trail for at least 12 hours. That’s a lot of food and water!
Hydration: Dehydration can be a cause for concern while hiking on the trails in the sun and heat while at higher elevations. It can lead to headaches, dizziness and other potentially dangerous symptoms if not treated properly. Please be certain to bring plenty of water with you on your adventure and start hydrating the day before any strenuous hike. All hikers should bring at least 120 oz. of water (140 oz. would be ideal). A hydration pack is recommended. Please do not begin a strenuous hike with less that 120 oz of liquids (including a 20 oz. bottle of sports drink). Our guides carry over 4 liters of liquids on strenuous hikes in the summer. Water purification pumps and pills are a good fallback option. We provide a water filter on every guided Half Dome hike.
Electrolytes: As you sweat, your body needs to replace more than water. Electrolytes are essential. We have found an alternative to the traditional sugary sports drinks that does not contain Yellow 5, aka Tartrazine which can cause some uncomfortable allergic reactions. Electrolyte drinks and mixes are available at most stores. One mix our guides are currently using is called Electro Mix by the Alacer Company which also makes Emergen-C.
Pre-Hydration: It is extremely important to pre-hydrate the day before a Strenuous Half Dome Hike. Make sure to drink at least 1 gallon of water and at least 16 oz of sports drink in the 24 hours leading up to the hike. You should also drink about 20 oz of water in the morning before you hit the trail. These steps will make your Yosemite experience a lot more enjoyable.
Clothing: It’s a good idea to be prepared for all types of weather even in summer. Dressing in layers is always suggested when planning an outing in Yosemite. Very few hikes begin and end in only shorts and T-shirts. The temperatures vary based on the elevation level, amount of sunlight on a particular trail, and of course, the time of day. All adventurers should always pack an extra layer for colder weather. A good lightweight rain jacket will serve as an extra layer on cooler mornings and will protect you on the Mist Trail which could be raging well into July on big snow years. Packable lightweight rain pants are also recommended during May and June while hiking Half Dome.
Gloves: Proper gloves are a must on the Half Dome Cables. Any hardware store will carry nitrile utility work gloves that would be suitable for this hike. Nitrile coated gloves are lightweight and work best. Latex gloves with extra ‘rubberized’ grip are very good too, but some people are allergic to latex. Suede and leather gloves may slip. When pulling yourself up the cables, always “Trust the gloves”. Leave No Trace -Please do not leave your gloves at the cables for the ‘next hiker’. These gloves are considered trash by Yosemite National Park and hundreds of pairs of gloves are hauled out by rangers and volunteers each year in large trash bags.
Footwear: Lightweight hiking shoes or trail runners are perfect for Half Dome. With the advance in technology, their lightweight design has become ideal for this type of hike. Hiking boots are also a good idea on this hike over difficult terrain but can be heavy and every ounce counts over roughly 16 miles. Waterproof hiking shoes and boots are necessary for hikes during spring and early summer when the trail is wet.
Additional Essentials-Sun Block, sunglasses, insect repellent, wide brimmed sun hat or baseball cap
Daypacks: Any day pack will do. Be certain your pack can carry all the water, food, and extra clothes your hike requires. Many newer models will have a slot for a hydration reservoir. A good tip would be to bring a rain cover or an extra heavyweight trash bag for inside your pack to protect your gear from rain and the Mist Trail.
Additional Gear: mole skin for blisters and extra socks, head lamp, pocket knife, small pack of tissues.
First Aid: We equip each hike with a First Aid kit so we have you covered for band aids and blister remedies.
Can O Peaches Blog Post: Tips to help you reach the Half Dome Summit by John P. DeGrazio